Letter: Costly cabbages

Click to follow
Sir: Driving down the M4 recently, I spotted a large sign in a field which proclaimed the support of a major supermarket for Britain's beleaguered farming industry. The same supermarket also professes to champion the cause of the British consumer.

However, such altruistic behaviour does not preclude the making of a healthy profit out of both. At the time of writing, the supermarket in question was paying its Cornish growers just 10 pence for a bag of three premium grade spring-green cabbages (4 pence per three if not bagged).

Once on the shelf, however, the same produce was priced at 59 pence per bag - a mark-up of almost 600 per cent on cost price. By contrast, a typical greengrocer would expect to mark up produce of this kind by 50 percent at most.

Still, if the growers don't like it, they can always sell their produce to - well, probably to no one actually, as the rise of the supermarket has decimated the traditional wholesale supply channel.

The DTI recently announced the launch of a European comparative price index, to crack down on exactly this type of profiteering. Is it too much to hope, however, that the major supermarkets will not simply abuse their huge purchasing power by insisting that their suppliers, rather than themselves, accept a substantial reduction in their profit margin?